Rules on can you take pictures inside the Vatican

Can you take pictures inside the Vatican: Know your rights!

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You've been convinced by our reasons to visit the Vatican and you’ve scrimped and saved for your trip to Rome? You now want to show the world by taking pictures?

Well, here’s a list of dos and don’ts about taking Vatican pictures inside the walls.

Can you take pictures inside the Vatican: List of Dos & Don'ts

The Vatican City is home to some of the most amazing historical, religious and cultural treasures on earth! Of COURSE you will want to take pictures during your visit.

But with so many ancient and crumbling antiquities, you could find yourself in a tricky situation pretty quickly. That’s right, there are some rules and restrictions you need to bear in mind when taking pictures of Vatican City attractions.

Taking pictures of Vatican City – Strict rules

Taking pictures inside the Vatican

First things first – photography IS permitted in the Vatican city, but under some conditions.

The rules are set out to protect the artefacts and artworks. So please, if you are in a non-photography (more likely, it will be a “non-flash” zone) obey the guidance. Even if you see others flouting the rules… which you will.

Here’s a list of the rules below.

  • Selfie sticks – a big no no. Simply, they are not allowed within any building in the Vatican City. They will be picked up by the metal detectors and confiscated!
  • Flash photography. Only allowed in certain areas, generally where there is no danger of damage to a fresco or other protected pieces
  • Tripods. Even if you could be bothered lugging one of these around with you, don’t bother. They are forbidden as well.
  • Outdoor spaces, including St Peter’s Square – take as many pictures as you want – minus the selfie stick
  • St Peter’s Basilica – again, no restrictions here apart from the equipment.

Can you take pictures of the Sistine Chapel?

Sistine Chapel pictures allowed

It’s a bit of a weird thing here. Firstly, the chapel is entirely covered on the ceiling by the stunning frescoes for which it is famous. So, as you’ve just learned, you won’t be able to use flash.

For a long time, photographs have been completely forbidden in the Sistine Chapel.

A Japanese company bizarrely owned copyright on the interior – a deal that had been made when the company funded restoration in the early 1980s. Even though the copyright expired in 2019, photography is not allowed.

You will be asked to delete any pictures from your phone – or worse – be asked to leave!

Here’s an excerpt from the Vatican Museum’s own website.

“In the Sistine Chapel it is forbidden to take photographs or films with any type of electronic equipment. The guard staff is authorised to request the immediate cancellation, in their presence, of video or photographic material produced in contravention of this rule.”

Can you take a picture of the Vatican Walls

You can go ahead and take pictures of the Vatican Walls when you are out and about around the Vatican City.

Again, if inside the area of the Vatican City, the usual restrictions on selfie sticks and equipment apply as usual.

How to take pictures of St. Peter's Basilica

Rules on taking pictures of St. Peter's Basilica

You are allowed to take pictures within the Basilica, and outside. But make sure you don’t forget that some of the best photos of St Peter’s Basilica are taken outside of the Vatican City. Climb up on Aventine Hill for example, and get an amazing keyhole view of the church.

Inside the Basilica, the best shot can be taken during the climb up the Cupula.

Want your own Residence of the Pope photos – is it possible or not?

The Apostolic Palace is the Pope’s official residence in the Vatican City. It is possible of course to take pictures of the outside.

Some areas are completely closed to tourists – such as the Sala Regia. But you can visit – and photograph – other parts such as the Borgia Apartment.

Can you take pictures in the Vatican Gardens?

Pictures of Vatican garden rules

If you are lucky enough to get on a tour of the Vatican Gardens, make sure you take plenty of pictures. It’s limited in capacity as to how many can visit per day, so you’ll be one of the lucky few!

Make sure to get a picture of the Grotto Of Lourdes and the Fountain of the Eagle.

Can you take pictures of the Vatican Museum?

Pictures of Vatican museum

The good news is you can take photos pretty much everywhere within the Vatican Museums. Just make sure you obey the guidelines above, and pay attention to signage and directions where required.

FAQs about Inside the Vatican Pictures

banner faq

What happens if you take pictures in the Sistine Chapel?

You might be politely asked to leave, have your photo deleted from your camera, or hear a guard shout “no photo!”

Are Sistine Chapel pictures allowed?

No! Don’t do it! Respect the frescoes. Sistine Chapel picture guards patrol the area to make sure you don't break the rules.

Can you take pictures inside the Vatican?

Yes you can! Just follow the guidance and you will get some great shots.

What is the best place to photograph in the Vatican?

Oh there are so many! The view from the top of St Peter’s Basilica to the square never disappoints. The Bramante staircase is another popular spot.


Now you know the rules – we don’t want to hear any tales of people being evicted from the Sistine Chapel!

Start planning the rest of the trip here today.

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1 Comment

  1. Posted by Mark Toro| February 26, 2022 |Reply

    I visited the Vatican in 2019. Got some great photographs. Am I allowed to use a photo of the interior dome of St Peter’s, for the back cover of a book I am finishing?

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